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UNITED STATES V. WHITE, 322 U. S. 694 (1944)

U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. White, 322 U.S. 694 (1944)

United States v. White

No. 366

Argued March 6, 1944

Decided June 12, 1944

322 U.S. 694


1. The constitutional privilege against self-incrimination is essentially a personal one, applying only to natural individuals. P. 322 U. S. 698.

2. The papers and effects which the privilege protects must be the private property of the person claiming the privilege, or at least in his possession in a purely personal capacity. P. 322 U. S. 699.

3. An officer of an unincorporated labor union has no right, under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments of the Federal Constitution, to refuse to produce books and records of the union -- which are in his possession and which a federal court by a subpoena duces tecum has required to be produced -- on the ground that they might tend to incriminate the union or himself as an officer thereof and individually. P. 322 U. S. 704.

The test of the applicability of the privilege is whether one can fairly say under all the circumstances that a particular type of organization has a character so impersonal in the scope of its membership and activities that it cannot be said to embody or represent the purely private or personal interests of its constituents, but rather to embody their common or group interests only. If so, the privilege cannot be invoked on behalf of the organization or its representatives in their official capacity. P. 322 U. S. 701.

Page 322 U. S. 695

4. Whether the person asserting the privilege in such case is a member of the union, and whether the union was subject to the provisions of the statute in relation to which the investigation was being made, are immaterial. P. 322 U. S. 704.

137 F.2d 24 reversed.

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